Here at Whisper Ranch we have constant ongoing monthly expenses that you can learn about on our “How To Help” page.
Those are the most vital basic needs. However we also have a wish list of things that would be very helpful to us and to the animals, but we simply do not have the extra funds to purchase. We are not picky…and are more than happy to DIY something if we have funds for materials.
We use round hay bales that average 5’x5′ in size. Pound for pound, hay in large round bales is much cheaper than square bales. The challenge with feeding round bales is keeping them covered and out of the weather, and keeping them contained to minimize waste. Commercial options for covering round bales are VERY expensive – ranging from $800 to over $2,000! That is way out of our reach. The least expensive option out there is the Bale Barn at $695. Still out of our reach, but that is why its on our “Wish List”
The benefit of the Bale Barn is that is is lightweight and easy to handle. This would allow one person to move it to a new bale without the need for a tractor (which we also don’t have).
If some kind soul would like to donate towards the purchase of Bale Barns (we need two but will be happy with anything!)
Another option is to build our own. Something like this:
The cost of materials should be a good bit less than a Bale Barn. The downside in comparison is the weight…it will have to be moved with each new bale to avoid a mud pit from horses standing around it eating. Also being made of wood it will eventually wear out as compared to the plastic Bale Barn. But it is certainly an option once we have the materials. If anyone has scrap wood that would work, let us know!
A third option, one we came up with and are using now, is a beach umbrella. Here’s our set up:
The bale is put in a standard round bale hay ring and the umbrella is stuck into the middle of it. It has to be adjusted as they eat down the bale, and it doesn’t keep the edges of the bale dry, but it does help! We do have to replace them about once a year.t hey cost around $70 so this is the best we can do for now.
We get them here when we have a little extra money. We are currently in need of two.
At our main sanctuary, we have three sections where the animals are assessed, then put in the area with the most compatible herd mates. Why do we need shelters to be movable? Because sometimes we need to resection or divide areas to adapt to the needs of the residents at a given time and that could require moving the shelter.
One section has a barn, the other has a run in shed that is in need of repair and even so, it is not big enough. The third section currently has tarps creating a tent in the trees. Its hardly sufficient, but its all we can do right now.
We hope to someday put a movable shelter in the two areas without the barn. Here are the options:
Metal Carport with the size and height we need would run about $1100 new. Advantage: would hold up well and last in all types of weather. Disadvantage: would be hard to move, but at least it can be.
Portable Run In Shelter – low end cost $800. Advantage: easy to relocate. Disadvantage: may not be that sturdy long term. Potential problem in strong winds.
We have resigned ourselves to the fact that we will probably never have a tractor. Not only is the upfront cost WAY out of reach, maintenance costs are an ongoing concern. BUT two of us are mechanics so the labor would be free! That said, if someone has a tractor to donate, we would be over the moon delighted!
The only requirement (other than it is either functional or fairly easily fixable) is that it needs to be a type of tractor that could pick up 5’x5′ round bales. That is the main reason we need a tractor.